Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Zambia: Descriptive Analysis of a Household-Based National Survey Open Access

Swartz, Natalia (Spring 2019)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/rr171z319?locale=en


Background: The HIV epidemic in Zambia has contributed to a national population of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) that has distinct characteristics and needs. We examined data from the 2016 Zambia Population-Based HIV Impacted Assessment (ZAMPHIA) survey to estimate the total number of OVC in Zambia, their sociodemographic characteristics, HIV prevalence, and levels of household support.

Methods: ZAMPHIA 2016 is a nationally representative, household-based survey with a cross-sectional, 2-stage cluster sampling design and provision of HIV testing. We used complex survey weights to produce weighted estimates of the count and profile of OVC ages 0-14 years in Zambia.

Results: We estimated that there were 1.06 million OVC in Zambia in 2016, consisting of 658,721 orphans and 399,069 vulnerable children. OVC constituted 14.5% of the total child population. The prevalence of orphans was higher among older children with 49.1% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 45.2 to 52.9) of all orphans in the oldest age group (10-14 years). HIV prevalence was 3.1 times as high among OVC compared to non-OVC (95% CI: 2.0 to 5.0). Of the estimated 585,498 households with OVC, only 0.5% to 7.7% received support, varying based on the type of support service.

Conclusion: OVC comprise a considerable proportion of children ages 0-14 years in Zambia. Despite the higher rates of HIV among OVC than non-OVC, most OVC households are not receiving support. Efforts should be placed on closing this gap in coverage and developing targeted interventions that address the needs of this underserved population. 

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